Suspect bailed out by Minnesota Freedom Fund leaves bar manager with traumatic brain injury in violent assault

A copy of a document filed with the court was provided to Alpha News showing that Timms signed an agreement to have the bail amount returned to the Minnesota Freedom Fund (MFF) upon successful completion of the case.

Lionel Melaki Timms, courtesy of Hennepin County Sheriff

A violent daytime assault last week has left a well-liked Minneapolis bar manager with a traumatic brain injury and a long road to recovery. The alleged perpetrator is a violent offender who was charged just a month ago in another violent assault and was provided bail by the Minnesota Freedom Fund just days prior to last week’s assault.

The victim, who has asked not to be identified by name, stepped out the back door at Mac’s Industrial Sports Bar on East Hennepin Avenue on Friday, Aug. 14 and was apparently viciously attacked by a suspect during a robbery attempt. The victim is a bar manager at Mac’s.

Charges filed this week in Hennepin County against the suspect, Lionel Melaki Timms, 32, say that he repeatedly hit and kicked the victim in the head during the attack and left him lying in the alley unable to defend himself.

According to details in the complaint, police were dispatched to the location on the 300 block of East Hennepin Avenue in southeast Minneapolis around 10:30 a.m. on a report of an assault in progress in the alley.

Responding officers located the victim face down in the middle of the alley with blood coming from his ear and the left side of his head. The victim could not speak, and it appeared he had been knocked unconscious. The victim could only state that he was mugged by a black male, the complaint stated.

Two witnesses told police that they had been outside on a patio when they heard yelling. They looked up and saw the suspect punching the victim, and one of the witnesses ran inside and called 911. The other witness observed the suspect punch the victim and kick him numerous times while he was on the ground. When the first witness returned to the alley, the suspect turned on him and tried to come after him, the complaint said. That witness was able to retreat inside of a building as the suspect followed and tried to get inside.

A third witness, who did not see the beginning of the assault, saw the suspect kick the victim in the head and took a photo of the suspect that was later provided to police. Subsequent to the assault, witnesses described the suspect to police as a black male in his twenties, with short black hair, trimmed beard, black t-shirt, black pants and grey New Balance shoes.

The suspect fled the scene before police arrived but was reportedly seen still in the area around noon, according to a police scanner incident page that posted about the assault on Facebook.

The complaint states that the suspect was spotted again in the area at approximately 2 p.m. Police arrived and apprehended the suspect at 3rd Avenue Southeast and 5th Street Southeast after reportedly detaining him at taser-point.

A GoFundMe account has been set up by friends who are raising money to help with the victim’s recovery and lost wages. Mac’s bar posted about the incident on Thursday and thanked everyone who had begun donating to the victim’s recovery fund.

The GoFundMe account states that the victim was assaulted in an “unprovoked attack” that left him with a traumatic brain injury and said that his road to recovery will be “delicate and will take time and resources.”

The criminal complaint against Timms confirmed that the victim, who was not identified by name in the complaint, was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) and was being treated for a traumatic brain injury, a fractured skull and a brain bleed.

Timms has been charged with one felony count of third-degree assault involving substantial bodily harm in the case. Timms made an initial court appearance on Tuesday and was granted a public defender.

July assault and cash bail by Minnesota Freedom Fund 

Just a month ago, Timms was charged with felony third-degree assault in another violent incident that allegedly took place aboard a bus in Bloomington.

According to charges in that case, on July 11, Metro Transit police responded to a bus at Nicollet Avenue South and American Boulevard East in Bloomington on a report of an assault in progress.

Upon arriving, the bus driver told police that an assault had occurred and described the suspect, who had fled, to police. Officers located the suspect a short distance away and apprehended him. The suspect was subsequently identified as Timms.

Meanwhile, paramedics were treating the victim who had a swollen eye, multiple abrasions on his forehead and face, and heavy bleeding from his nose. The victim told police that he was seated near the back door of the bus and that Timms was walking down the aisle panhandling. When the victim refused to give him money, Timms attacked him and hit him several times in the face, the complaint stated. The victim was transported to the hospital and was diagnosed with a fractured nose.

In further questioning, the driver told police that Timms was asking people for money and then he heard the commotion of the victim being attacked. The driver stated that he pulled the bus over and Timms tried to exit, but the door had not released. The driver told police that Timms yelled at him to open the door or he would keep hitting the victim. The driver told police that Timms went back and hit the victim again and he opened the door and Timms fled.

Timms was booked into Hennepin County Jail following the incident and was granted a public defender at his initial court appearance. Bail was initially set at $40,000 and Timms remained in jail. A subsequent hearing was held, and a conditional release bail amount was set at $10,000, according to court records.

The court record indicates an unusual entry showing that IRS Form 8300 was entered into the record on July 27. IRS Form 8300 is a document that must be filed with the IRS when an individual or business receives a cash payment over $10,000.

A copy of another document filed with the court was also provided to Alpha News showing that Timms signed an agreement to have the bail amount returned to the Minnesota Freedom Fund (MFF) upon successful completion of the case.

Court and jail records show that Timms posted cash bail of $10,000 and was released from jail on Aug. 3.

Concerns were raised earlier this month when it was reported by Fox 9 that MFF, a non-profit that collected $35 million in donations on the premise of providing bail for protesters arrested during the George Floyd demonstrations, has been using the money to bail out violent offenders in Minnesota.

The Fox 9 report listed those bailed out as an accused murderer, a sex offender with two new cases involving sexual assault and kidnapping, and another person who is charged with attempted murder for firing at officers during the riots that followed Floyd’s death.

After being bailed out by MFF, Timms was scheduled to appear at a hearing in the July assault case on Aug. 11. He failed to appear for that hearing and a warrant was issued for his arrest. The victim was assaulted three days later.

MFF’s interim executive director, Greg Lewin, told Fox 9, “I often don’t even look at a charge when I bail someone out.” Lewin said that only about a dozen protesters actually needed bail money provided from MFF.

Timms also has a lengthy record of arrests and a history of convictions for violent crimes. In 2012, Timms was charged in a series of burglaries in Minnetonka and Maple Grove. He was subsequently convicted on three felony counts of first-degree burglary of occupied dwellings, which is defined as a violent crime under Minnesota law. Timms also has two other prior convictions for first-degree burglary, as well as felony narcotics and two convictions for felony auto theft. Public records indicate that Timms may also have a criminal history in other states.

Timms remains in custody in Hennepin County Jail on $40,000 and $50,000 bail in the July and August assaults, respectively. He is scheduled to make his next court appearances in both cases on Sept. 15.

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Minnesota Crime Watch & Information publishes news, info and commentary about crime, public safety and livability issues in Minneapolis, the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota.